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Rare plants of Socotra Island, Republic of Yemen

A. Majid, National Project Director of Forestry Development
FAO (GCP/YM/021)



The flora of Socotra is famous world wide. More than 750 have been recorded to grow on the Island of which 250 species do not grow in other parts of the world.

IUCN published a book entitled the red book information on the most rare 200 plant species in the world. The following 7 rare species are found on Socotra island: Dirachma socotrana, Aloe squarrosa, Dendrosicyos socotranus, Taverniera sericophylla, Dorstenia gigas, Begonia socotrana, and Punica protopunica.



Punica Protopunica
A small tree that can reach a height of 3 meters. Its flowers are bright red and the fruit color changes from green to dark red when ripe. The tree grows all over the Island, mostly in single specimens.

Comiphora socotrana
A small deciduous tree with small serrate leaves which grows only in Socotra in hilly areas.

Comipora ornifolia
A medium size tree which reaches up to 8 meters. The fruits look like small grapes. It grows only in Socotra in hilly areas.

Boswellia ameero
A small tree with scaly bark, lobbed dark green leaves and bright red flowers. The tree is native to Socotra Island. It produces medium quality chewing gum.

Begonia Socotrana
This herb of global leaves and bright rose flowers, grows on the moist groves in the mountain areas of the Island. It is a very rare and valuable ornamental plant.

Aloe squarrosa
This type of Aloe is associated with Aloe perry . Leaves are white spotted and flowers are red.
This is also a very rare plant which grows only on mountainous areas on the north edge of the island.

Adenium obesum subsp. socotranum
This is a tree of swollen pole which produces abundant quantities of pale red flowers and is very poisonous.

Cephalocroton socotranus
A small tree which produces yellow flowers and exists only on Socotra’s mountains. The wood is used for incense.

Dracaena cinnabari
This tree has a dense crown, pale yellow flowers and black fruits. It is native to Socotra Island only.

Dendrosicyos socotranus
This is one of the most famous trees in Socotra. It grows on the coastal plains and hills. It is the only tree in the Curbitaceae family.

Zizyphus spina - christi
This is a medium sized to tall tree of yellow edible, fruits. It is native to the Arab Peninsula.

Jatropha unicostata
This small tree has shiny green leaves and reaches up to 2 m high. It grows only on Socotra Island.

Euphorbia arbuscula
It is a leafless tree of erect stem and produces resinous exudates. The fruits are brown. The tree exists only on the coastal plains of Socotra.

Arthrocarpum qracile
It is a small tree that reaches maximum 3 m. The leaves are lobbed and the flowers are small and yellow. It grows only in Socotra.

Dorstenia gigas
This is a small fleshy plant with a swolllen bottle like stem. The leaves are dark green. It grows only in Socotra

Sterculia africana subsp Socotrana
This is one of the largest trees in Socotra. It grows on hills and is native only to the Island.

Croton socotranus
It is a tree which has a straight stem that reaches up to 3 m. It grows on coastal plains. It has a significant role in soil stabilization.

Maerua socotrana
This small tree of weeping branches has attractive white flowers.It grows on coastal plains and hills. It is native only to Socotra.

Aloe perryi
This fleshy cactus of orange and yellow flowers, grows only in Socotra, all over the Island.

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